Sleep Patterns in Dogs
If you’re someone who’s so busy that it’s tough to get the eight hours of sleep per night that your body likely needs, you’ve probably observed your dog’s sleeping habits with a little bit of jealousy. Many dogs can sleep just about anywhere at any time… and sometimes in any position, to the delight of many dog owners.
A typical dog sleeps about 14 hours per day, although some dogs will sleep more or less than average. Puppies and older dogs will need more sleep than an average-aged dog. Certain breeds of dogs sleep more than other breeds as well.
Concerns Over Sleeping Patterns
However, if you’re worried about your dog’s sleeping habits, it’s well worth investigating further with your veterinarian. After all, a change in the dog’s sleeping patterns could indicate the beginnings of a more serious illness.
A dog that suddenly begins sleeping less than usual could be suffering some sort of pain that can make it difficult to sleep through the night. Or a dog that’s sleeping much more than usual could be worn out by an illness. Make sure you know foods to which your dog may be allergic and any other health concerns that may be specific to your dog, so that in the case they are losing sleep over an illness, you have a better idea of the source.
Dogs may even suffer from sleep disorders. While most people only think of these types of sleeping problems affecting humans, dogs can suffer from sleep-related illnesses such as:
- Insomnia. Illnesses such as arthritis or thyroid issues can lead to insomnia in a dog, resulting in a pet that suffers from restlessness throughout the night. You may want to try crating the dog at night, as some dogs will pace the house while the owner is sleeping.
- Narcolepsy. If your dog is sleeping well at night but seems to still be napping a lot of hours during the day, your pet could be suffering from narcolepsy. You’ll notice that the dog sleeps heavily during daytime naps, where it’s difficult to wake up the dog, almost as if it’s suffering from a muscle paralysis. Have a veterinarian check out your dog immediately if you suspect this problem.
- Sleep apnea. Just like a human who is suffering from sleep apnea, a dog that has this sleep-related illness will snore loudly. Watch the dog to see if it temporarily stops breathing while sleeping, suddenly waking up when it begins breathing again. Have the vet examine your dog if you suspect this problem.
Changing Sleeping Locations
If you notice your dog suddenly changes its sleeping pattern, it’s possible that the cause of the new sleeping problem may be related to a change in the dog’s environment, rather than the dog suffering from an illness. Consider whether some changes such as the following may be causing the sleeping disorder.
- Environmental changes. A change in the home environment, such a move to a new residence or new working hours for the owner, could spark a bout of insomnia in the dog.
- Location. Nearly half of all dogs sleep in their owner’s bed, so if you suddenly decide that the dog should sleep in a crate or in its own bed, the dog may suddenly develop a problem with sleeping.
- New household members. If you’ve recently added another dog to your home, this could cause your first dog to have trouble sleeping, as it may want to play with the new dog. Or if you’ve recently had a baby, because the baby wakes up at odd hours during the night, it may interrupt the dog’s normal sleeping habits, causing the animal to need some time to adjust.
So while you may be jealous of just how much your dog gets to sleep during the day, the dog’s life isn’t perfect. After all, dogs also can suffer from sleeping problems. Try to keep your dog’s environment as stable as possible, and both of you will be able to sleep well through the night!
Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.